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How to Satisfy a Halloween Craving with Graphic Novels

20 Oct

Neil Gaiman's Snow, Glass, Apples : Gaiman, Neil, Doran, Colleen: BooksBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Halloween 2021 can still be about staying at home with a good book to read because of the pandemic, or going out and wearing a ghoulish face mask up since it’s appropriate to. After a year of being told by health boards about what to do and not to, I’m sure a revolt will happen. Events are taking place with restrictions in mind. All of that is fine and dandy, and for those who just want to be safe, I have the following book recommendations. The links provided go to Amazon USA, to which I’m an affiliate with, for those interested in purchasing.

Snow, Grass, Apples
Dark Horse Comics

This graphic novel adaptation of Snow White retells the tale from the point of view of the stepmother. It’s an eerie gothic style take which then steps into the realm of high romanticism. We are introduced to her as though she’s the heroine, rather than the wicked witch. She fell in love with the king, and he in turn took her in to be one of his many lovers. When we finally meet the daughter–who has vampyric tastes–the tale takes on a unique look at the tale most readers should be familiar with.

What makes this tale horrific is in how it ties to the seasons. The events take on various feelings of melancholy, cheer and rebirth. Colleen Doran’s art is exceptional in this piece as it plays with the motifs. The pictures’ mosaic-like quality looks like it should belong in the Sistine Chapel!

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An Interview with Denver Jackson & Esluna: Crown of Babylon’s World Debut!

6 Oct

Babylon_press_kit (1)-6

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Denver Jackson is the creative mind behind a techno-fantasy world that he can uniquely call his own. Esluna: The First Monolith is a standalone work that introduces Maeve Riverflare, a relic hunter, to the world. This nine episode series is available on YouTube, and received a few national awards for best digital series made (Blood in Snow Festival) and a Leo Awards nomination for direction. He also has a solid team of friends, like Mark Junker (musician), Daniel Hogg (producer) and the voice actors (see below for credits) to back him in his many projects.

Next is Esluna: The Crown of Babylon and its set to play at various film festivals like Vancouver’s Spark Animation (Oct 28 to Nov 7th) and Sitges Festival in Spain (Oct 7 to 17th). Catching the prior series is not required for newcomers, but this director said there’s a few nods here and there for those followers of his work.

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Three Filipino Films at LA’s Asian Film Festival in Review

30 Sep

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Playing at the Regal L.A. LIVE: Barco Innovation Center will be a treat for those looking to expand their horizons with Filipino produced works. One is actually Canadian because that’s where the director is from (Fanny), but as for why this county matters, it’s easy to see how their influence is shaking things up in the art house cinematic world. Sadly, these works run nearly back to back with each other, and this guide can help those locals decide on which work deserves to be seen.

Lumpia with a Vengeance #1 - Comics by comiXologyLumpia with a Vengeance

Oct 1, 8:30 pm

It’s rare to find a movie that mixes superheroes up with food. Lumpia is one of those rare films not very widely known, but somehow it gained a cult recognition. It was a sophomore work of Patricio Ginelsa Kuya and its Filipino-American representation made this work unique.

The sequel shows this superhero is back with even more egg rolls! Normally, I’d be all over this like I am to this deep fried goodness it extols. There’s so many flavourful regional variants, and I’d eat them all up. In this sequel, perhaps a second serving isn’t needed. While it’s fantastic to get caught up with the people from the first film decades later, including seeing this avenger take on a side-kick, this story needs editing. 

The world has gotten bloated. The lengthy run time is the problem and we’re dealing with a lot of unneeded subplots. Part of the tale includes Kuya taking on a side-kick. Rachel (April Absynth) wants to help in the fight. Her high school is flooded with bad guys selling drugs hidden in the egg rolls.

It’s terrific to see a few big names, like Danny Trejo, become part of this narrative, but I think this film doesn’t need all this this added celebrity support. I’d fare better on its own merits than further world and character building.

3 Stars out of 5

The Monsters Without (2021) - IMDb

The Monsters Without

Oct 1, 2021
9:00 pm

The Monsters Without is a fun action-fantasy-adventure that delves into the folklore of the Philippines.
Here, the monsters want to reclaim the world. The only organization able to do something about it is P.H.A.S.E. They operate much like M.O.N.A.R.C.H. in Legendary’s Godzilla. The cast are specialists from different countries and the hope is that they can come up with a way to save the planet.

When a rogue Yablo decides it’s time for a new future for his species, it’s up to Setsuko (Christina Yr. Jun) and her fiance, Rommel Romero (Jake Macapagal), to do something about it. They have a lot of friends to help, but is it enough?

This film by Randal Kamradt has a lot to like. It’s a loving tribute to the monster films of the 80s. Anyone who thinks we don’t have enough Filipino genre style films will be in for a treat. It’s tough to keep track of all the creatures, and a checklist is required. There’s a vibe that’s recognizable for those who love Harryhausen’s stop motion films and Ghostbusters.

Plus, there’s a familiar enthusiasm from Yr. Jun’s performance. She’s like Sydney Fox (Tia Carrere) from Relic Hunter, and a woman to be respected. Her resiliance on the field is what kept me interested. I’m hoping for a sequel after this film gets picked up for a proper theatrical release after its debut at this festival. I wouldn’t be surprised for WELL GO USA to pick up the title, but that’s not likely to get a home video release until next year.

4 Stars out of 5

Fanny: The Right to Rock (2021) - IMDb

Fanny: The Right to Rock

Oct 1, 2021
7:00 pm

For upcoming screenings, please visit the official webpage.

The music industry has forgotten about Fanny, a Filipina American garage band who shot to fame in the early 70s. In the excellent documentary, The Right to Rock, their legacy is examined with a fine-tooth comb to understand the life and times of the founders–June and Jean Millingtonand the world they left behind since they folded in 1975. Just what they dealt with was not restricted to the racism they faced. There was also misogyny.

Their carefree LGBTQ attitude makes any movement of today look like a third attempt for proper recognition. Bonnie Raitt, Joe Elliott, Kate Pierson, and David Bowie loved them. A few visited their retreat and got to jam. This group predated later acts who would emerge from the same decade. On this list includes Joan Jett, Go-Gos and The Bangles. Most of them cite this group as their inspiration. 

This work by Bobbi Jo Hart suggests they’re planning a massive comeback. These musicians still got it, and as for whether there’ll be another album, it’s hard to say after the release of Fanny Walked the Earth (2018). This documentary was filmed during the making of and was released early this year.

5 Stars out of 5

Shang Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, A Movie Review

8 Sep

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings poster.jpegWuxia movies are a dime a dozen. To stand out requires a proper vision. Somehow Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (SCLotR) lack the sense of feeling like an Asian film. It’s produced by Chinese-Americans, who are probably two generations removed from their heritage. Instead of earning their wings on some feudal period piece for television in Shanghai (or Hong Kong), they only have the approval of Disney to produce this piece.

This film begins nicely enough, with bits from Jackie’s Chan’s The Myth and Forbidden Kingdom mixed in, but somehow in the tale’s progression, it turns into something like a Black Widow type of film.

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‘Punk it up with Vault’s Fox & Hare!

21 Aug

Vault Comics
Coming November 2021

Vault is thrilled to announce Fox and Hare, a thrilling new cyberpunk series co-created by writer Jon Tsuei (Sera and the Royal StarsRun Love Kill), and artist Stacey Lee (Marvel’s SilkThe Unstoppable Wasp, Gwenpool).

When black market coder Aurora Yi uncovers top secret data that has tapped into the past lives of the citizens of Mazu Bay, her world is turned upside down. The mega corporation Synastry Designs wants its data back and is hot on her trail. Aurora has no choice but to turn to the Fox and the Hare, the most feared mercenaries in the city, for protection. Rebellion. Reclamation. Rebirth.

“I’ve always been drawn to the cyberpunk genre, but I never saw myself represented in those stories, despite their heavy usage of Asian aesthetics,” said Jon Tsuei. “I began to wonder, what if Asian people reclaimed the aesthetics of cyberpunk and centered ourselves in the narrative? As I spent time with that question, I realized that it wasn’t enough to just place Asian faces in the story. We also had to reframe the themes of new technology (cyber) and rebellion (punk) through an Asian lens.

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